I was born and brought up in a large council housing estate on the South Side of Glasgow. This was the 1950’s and 60’s when the policy was to move people from the old tenements of the centre to new, modern housing on the periphery of town. 50,000 people moved to Pollok where I was born. The housing was better but there was no youth club or community or sports centre. But there were churches. Being Scotland, these were clearly divided between the Protestant Church of Scotland and the Catholic Church. With a few notable exceptions the two never came together. My family was one of these exceptions. My mother being Protestant sent me to Bible class and my father took me to Mass. These churches provided the only social support in a vast estate which was to become a designated Area of Deprivation.
I was lucky and was the first member of my family to go to university. A long career in the voluntary and public sectors followed and I hope that experience is of some use to NECN.
When I am in Scotland to see my family, I often go back to the estate where I was born. Our house and many others have been demolished to release land for new private homes. The row of shops I remember has gone to make way for a new “hypermarket”. Lots has changed but the churches are still there. They have a programme of “Churches Together” activities. The Church of Scotland has a youth and sports club in its grounds. The hall of the Catholic Church houses the welfare rights clinic.
It is clear their ministry still has many challenges but it is also clear to me that the life giving force of Christian faith remains alive despite the difficulties. Estates Ministry needs support. That’s what NECN is here to do and I’m happy to help.